Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Miranda Warnings": Home Stretch!

Welcome to "Miranda Warnings", your weekly guide to what's happening in the world of Major League Baseball, from a fantasy baseball perspective. Every Wednesday, throughout baseball's regular season, "Miranda Warnings" will appear on I'm your host Michael Miranda.

As we approach the finish line of the 2008 baseball season, it's more important than ever to stay on top of what's happening in fantasy baseball. Let's get right to it.

American League East: Toronto OF Alex Rios has had a subpar 2008, but he's coming on strong. Rios went 4-for-5, with a home run and an RBI on Tuesday versus Minnesota. The power was supposed to come for Rios in 2008, but he only has 11 homers on the year. However (and this is key for Rios' fantasy status in 2009 and beyond), he is tied for fifth in the AL with 41 doubles. Those doubles should eventually (sooner, rather than later) translate into homers. I predict Rios is going to have an MVP-type 2009 season... Tampa OF Rocco Baldelli continues his solid play following an extended injury rehab. Baldelli went 2-for-3, with a run scored and two RBI's on Saturday versus Baltimore. Baldelli's comeback is really impressive when you consider that he missed the final 124 games of 2007 (hamstring) and the first 116 games of 2008 (mitochondrial disorder). If Baldelli can stay healthy, he can live up to his immense potential... Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia is developing into one of the better second basemen in baseball. Pedroia went 3-for-4, with a home run and two runs scored on Wednesday versus Baltimore. Pedroia is hitting .333, with 17 HR's, 76 RBI's, 17 steals and 108 runs! If he keeps this up, he'll be mentioned in the same breath as Philadelphia stud 2B Chase Utley and Texas stud 2B Ian Kinsler. And, in the process, he'll make a run at AL MVP!... Continuing to prove that he has no business, whatsoever, being on a Major League Baseball roster (and your fantasy roster), Yankees P Sidney Ponson was lit up (3 IP, 9 hits, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) versus Detroit on Monday. Ponson has an 8.92 ERA in his past five outings and is one of the major reasons that New York faded from contention in August... Baltimore 1B Aubrey Huff continues to rake in 2008. Huff went 2-for-5, with a homer and three RBI's Saturday versus Tampa. Huff, in the midst of a 7-game hitting streak, is batting .313, with 30 HR's and 98 RBI's! Huff, drafted in the middle to late rounds of most fantasy baseball drafts on D-Day 2008, is truly one of the great value-picks this season.

American League Central: Speaking of value-picks, Cleveland P Cliff Lee became a 20-game winner on Monday! Lee is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. How much of a value pick is Lee in 2008? Lee went undrafted (yes, Lee didn't get drafted!) in one of my fantasy leagues! He was picked up as a free agent in mid-April! Wow!... When 3B Alex Gordon and 1B/DH Billy Butler were rising through the Kansas City system, Gordon got most, if not all, of the hype. However, there were some scouts who believed Butler was as good, if not better than Gordon. With Gordon disappointing for a second straight season, Butler is proving that he is the better of the two. Butler went 3-for-4, with a homer and four RBI's on Tuesday versus Oakland. During his current eight-game hitting streak, Butler has three homers, eight RBI's and eight runs scored! In August, Butler batted .330!... Detroit P Justin Verlander's (1 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) disappointing 2008 continued Monday versus the Yankees. Verlander's horrible performance dropped him to 10-15 in 2008, with an ERA hovering around 5! There has to be something physically wrong with Verlander, who has allowed at least five earned runs in six of his past eight appearances!... Minnesota C Joe Mauer is chasing his second AL batting crown in three years. Mauer went 2-for-6, with three RBI's, on Wednesday versus Toronto and is now hitting .323 in 2008, third in the AL. Mauer is very under-rated... Philadelphia has to be kicking themselves for giving up on P Gavin Floyd. Floyd (6 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) raised his record to 15-6 in 2008, defeating Boston on Sunday. Floyd is a former Phillies prospect, who is now fulfilling his promise.

American League West: Further proof that LA Angels OF Vladimir Guerrero is in decline: he's gone six straight games without a homer or RBI, for the first time in his career. His 2008 numbers (.294, 23 HR's, 78 RBI's) are very unVladdy-like. He's still productive, but no longer a stud. He should come real cheap on D-Day 2009... Another "cheap" D-Day 2009 pick-up is Oakland 1B Daric Barton. Barton has been miserbale in 2008 (.223 BA, 8 HR's, 40 RBI's), but don't give up on him just yet. Barton is just 23 and has a great eye at the plate (50 BB in 120 games). I'm not saying he's going to be a great player, but he's got the potential to put together a few 20+ HR and 90+ RBI seasons. He'll be available in the late rounds on D-Day 2009... Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre has always had immense potential. He proved it during his monster 2004 season (.334 BA, 48 HR's, 121 RBI's) with the LA Dodgers and he proved it again Monday by hitting for the cycle, hitting his 24th homer, scoring five times and driving in three runs! Beltre isn't an elite third baseman, although he has the potential to be elite. However, he is a very solid "plan b", if you can't get your hands on an elite 3B on D-Day 2009... reports that Texas 2B Ian Kinsler (hernia) participated in a pregame workout Tuesday, but remains unsure if he'll play again this season. Kinsler took batting practice and fielded ground balls. Kinsler was having a monster season before he got injured.

National League East: The devastated Atlanta starting rotation (Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz) has given others the opportunity to pickup the slack. Unfortunately, P Charlie Morton hasn't taken advantage of his chance to contribute. Morton (3 1/3 IP, 5 hits, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) got roughed up by Florida on Tuesday and has a 6.42 ERA in 2008! Ouch! Morton put up nice numbers in the minor leagues, which indicate that he can succeed at the major league level. It's possible that he needs more time to adjust to major league competition. Morton should compete for a rotation spot in 2009... Met 3B David Wright went 3-for-5, with a homer on Sunday versus Florida. Wright is an absolute stud (.291 BA, 27 HR's, 104 RBI's, 14 SB's). If the Mets turn it on in September, Wright could win his first NL MVP... Florida OF Jeremy Hermida went 2-for-4, with an RBI and a run scored versus Atlanta on Wednesday. Keep an eye on Hermida (.251, 16 HR's, 58 RBI's, 6 SB's) for the remainder of 2008 and D-Day 2009. He's only 24 and has immense potential. Sometimes it takes a player(s) time to adjust to Major League Baseball. If/when Hermida adjusts, watch out!... Every once in a while a baseball player puts up softball-like numbers. Right now, that player is Washington SS Cristian Guzman. Guzman went 3-for-5, with a three RBI's and two runs scored on Wednesday versus Philadelphia. Guzman has collected multiple hits in each of his last eight games! In those eight games, Guzman is batting .538 (21-for-39), with 10 RBI's. Wow!... Despite a very low batting average (.236), Philadelphia slugger 1B Ryan Howard remains extremely productive (39 HR's, 119 RBI's). Howard went 2-for-4, with a pair of two-run homers versus Washington on Wednesday. In his last ten games, Howard is mashing, hitting .341, with five homers, eleven RBI's and nine runs scored!

National League Central: Houston OF Hunter Pence was on fire Tuesday versus Chicago, going 4-for-6, with a run scored. Pence is having a bit of a down sophomore year, but has made up for it lately. Pence is hitting .611, with two homers and seven RBI's over his last five games... Milwaukee 2B Rickie Weeks is an immensely talented player, but he has yet to show it. However, Tuesday's performance versus the Mets, is a step in the right direction. Weeks went 4-for-6, with a homer and two runs scored... The Cubs are in deep, deep trouble. P Carlos Zambrano left Tuesday's game against the Astros with right arm soreness and P Rich Harden is being given twelve days between starts to rest his arm. Without these guys, the Cubbies (and your fantasy team) are going nowhere fast... St.Louis P Adam Wainwright (5 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) was strong Tuesday against Arizona to improve to 8-3. Wainwright has been very solid since returning from the disabled list. He's gone 2-0, with a 2.08 ERA and a 13/2 K/BB ratio over 17 1/3 innings... Pittsburgh OF Nate McLouth needed a big game and got one! McLouth went 2-for-4, with two runs scored and two SB's on Wednesday versus Cincinnati. McLouth was in a 3-for-23 slump prior to Wednesday, which dropped his season BA to .270... Cincinnati P Johnny Cueto (elbow) plans to return to the rotation this Saturday versus Chicago. Why is Cincinnati taking a chance with one of the most dynamite young arms in baseball?

National League West: Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw (7 IP, 3 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) threw a gem against San Diego on Tuesday for his third win of the year. Remember Kershaw (especially in keeper leagues) because in the next few years he should develop into a top-notch hurler. Kershaw and P Chad Billingsley will form an impressive 1-2 punch in the Dodgers rotation for years to come... San Francisco C Pablo Sandoval continues to show signs of progress. He went went 2-for-5, with a homer and two runs scored Wednesday. Sandoval has done an excellent job filling in at catcher, first base and third base. Sandoval was tearing it up in the minors, so his bat is no surprise. He's the future at catcher for the Giants... San Diego SS Khalil Greene (fractured hand) had his cast removed and replaced with a splint. However, it's unlikely Greene will return this season... Arizona SS Stephen Drew hit for the cycle on Monday, including a home run, and scored three times. Drew is a breakout candidate as early as 2009... Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki has turned his season around. Tulo's numbers (.245, 6 HR's, 35 RBI's) are way off his 2007 pace, thanks mostly to two DL-stints (quadriceps/hand). However, he's hitting .333 in the second half and is making up for his disappointing and injury-plagued first half. I expect Tulo to bounce back big-time in 2009.

See you next week!

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